A thought-provking article today in the New York Times about Blurb.com, and the new opportunities for DIY books. As barriers to entry continue to fall across categories, we are seeing a collision of forces that require us to examine our needs both as consumers and producers.
The Blurb website offers many suggestions for content you might want to turn into a book. Recipes make a lot of sense, as doing wedding albums, photography portfolios and travelogues. They also suggest turning your blog into a book and provide some sophisticated software to make it easy to do so.
But I think there is a real tension here between creating a book and blogging. The truly compelling part of blogging is the real time feedback and dialogue that are created. The interconnectedness that is generated through links and trackbacks are to a blogger what an audience is to a theatre performer. A book author is more like a movie actor who works in isolation and has very little connection to his audience.
And yet there is an undeniable pull that the concept of a book exerts on people. Even the most famous of bloggers, like Seth Godin and Andrew Sullivan write books. In 2010 we’ll still be more likely to see a list of the best books from the first decade of this century than we are a list of the top blog posts.
Would a blog book be a mere vanity project, a one-off to sit on the author’s coffee table? More than likely and yet I can’t help but think there is a place for this sort of thing. The ubiquity of blogging necessitates a new way to separate the amateurs from the professionals. If everyone is blogging, the playing field is even and the superior are indistinguishable from the common. Perhaps blog books are one such differentiator, at least for a while.